Dancing through the years: a KSU student’s reflection


Sharon Kris-senior dance performance, choreography and classics major-began dancing her freshman year of high school and decided to make the art form her major after coming to Kent State as an undecided major. This year she graduates and hopes to make dance and the arts a part of her life, but she hasn’t decided how she will do it. Photo by Valerie Brown.

Brooke Bower

Kent State seniors are preparing for the future as graduation quickly approaches, and Sharon Kriz is no exception.

“Graduating is scary as hell,” said Kriz, classics and dance performance and choreography double major. “It’s exciting and terrifying. In many ways I’m very ready, I’ve been here for five years, but you don’t want it to end.”

While some seniors have figured out their next step, Kriz has not. She said it took her a while to transition from high school to college dance and she also thinks it will also take time to transition to professional dancing.

“I started by taking a couple (dance) classes and I realized I wanted to take all the dance classes.” – Sharon Kriz

For now, Kriz said she’s planning on moving home with her parents and has applied for numerous jobs, most not related to dance. She said she wants to take some dance classes, too.

“I would like to stay involved in the arts in some way,” Kriz said. “I’m not sure if that means dancing, choreographing, doing administration or becoming rich and becoming a donor yet.”

Kriz said if she doesn’t get a job, she is considering enrolling in classes with the American Dance Festival where she interned a year ago doing administrative work.

She started dancing her freshman year of high school after receiving a studio’s flyer. Her mom thought she should be more involved since she was no longer in gymnastics and theater, so she suggested she try modern dance.

Kriz performed her first recital during her freshman year of high school. She said the dance had percussion music and bright costumes. The dancers had bamboo sticks that made her feel “very powerful.”

She decided on Kent State after seeing an advertisement in a magazine emphasizing the university’s dance program. She said she started college with an undeclared major because she wasn’t sure if she wanted to pursue dance.

“I started by taking a couple (dance) classes and I realized I wanted to take all the dance classes,” Kriz said.

“I’ve enjoyed college. I learned so much about myself, like how I work and what I’m interested in.” – Sharon Kriz

Kriz said she performed in two pieces in college that have “influenced who I am as a dancer.” In 2008 she danced in a piece choreographed by artist-in-residence Alicia Diaz. She said the dance was very instrumental and that Diaz had “an entirely different technique and open mind about the rehearsal process.”

The second influential piece was May O’Donnell’s “Dance Energies” recreated by Verlezza Dance. She said it is the hardest piece she’s ever done and it draws heavily from O’Donnell’s technique.

“It’s what gave me the drive and desire to keep dancing,” Kriz said.

Barbara Verlezza, dance faculty member, and her husband, Sabatino Verlezza invited Kriz to be an understudy in “Dance Energies.” Verlezza said she improved and they liked her so much that they made another part for her in the dance.

“She worked so beautifully,” Verlezza said. “It was a testament in how much she grew since it’s a big decision we don’t take lightly.”

Kriz has choreographed two of her own pieces for school. Her junior year, she created “Kites,” a “very fun, uplifting and energetic dance” inspired by the imagery of kites. Her senior piece, “I Chose to Run,” was compromised of three sections of dance and two sections of music. She said each show someone rolled a die to decide the order of the music, choreographed sections and lighting.

“It was nice to watch her create it,” said Verlezza, who was Kriz’s creative advisor for the dance. “She had to be very organized to be that random. It showed she is someone who really invested herself in the creative process.”

She worked with live musicians for the piece and said it is something she has always been interested in. This semester she tried to create a live performance of dance, music and poetry reading. They were unable to perform the piece because of time but she said she would like to continue to work with mixed media in the future.

She said she is grateful for how much the dance major has prepared her for the future.

“I think I know a lot more about handling myself in the professional world,” Kriz said. “I’ve enjoyed college. I learned so much about myself, like how I work and what I’m interested in.”

Contact Brooke Bower at [email protected].